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Cooking up a masterpiece

By Yang Feiyue | China Daily | Updated: 2023-02-06 07:52

Zhao paints on a zaotou at a rural household in Haiyan. [Photo provided to China Daily]

As more people are appreciating traditional culture, Zhao's works of art have been pursued by people from across Zhejiang and other provinces, including Anhui and Jiangsu.

"There's been a significant change in the past six or seven years, during which urban people have taken a shine to the old-fashioned stove paintings," Zhao says.

He can also build movable wooden stoves that feature modern induction cookers.

Business owners want it to accentuate the holiday atmosphere or treat their distinguished guests.

"Some of them wait months for me to be available," Zhao says.

At the age of 10, Zhao was exposed to the art form under the influence of his grandfather and father, who were both stove painters.

Whenever Spring Festival came, other children got to play and buy toys, but Zhao's father would take him and his brother to buy illustrated stories and have the boys read them to better understand folk culture and copy the pictures over and over again.

"It is because zaotou painting generally holds propitious connotations, painters need to be familiar with various legendary stories and their expressions while improvising based on the themes requested by customers," Zhao explains.

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